Post updated on 07/08/2020

The past months I was receiving questions about the situation of Greece regarding the coronavirus issue. Many readers want to hear and to read more about the current situation and what measures Greece has taken regarding tourism in Greece this summer.

I am going to update this post as often as possible and I am also going to answer to your questions, so feel free to ask me on the comments and I will add the information on the post.

I will try to use official information and I will put sources as this is a very important subject.

What happened till today in Greece because of the coronavirus pandemic?

Greece got in total lockdown on 13th March and they started lifting the restrictions on 5th of May.

This happened in spite that on that point the coronavirus cases were quite low, around 190 and 1 death was reported at that date (data by Worldometer). Getting the tough measures so early, I think it was quite critical and helped to flatten the curve and keep the cases and most importantly the deaths quite low.

This gave time to the government to prepare the health system and increase the health personnel and get more ICU beds, monitors, respirators etc. (Data by Health System Response Monitor (HSRM))

As of 7th August, Greece reports 5.270 cases and 210 deaths. More information about the daily statistic you can find on Worldometer website here.

Note that from 28th July there is an increase in coronavirus cases and the government has taken even more measures, like a compulsory use of masks in almost every enclosed space and local lockdowns, like in Poros Island – see below.

On 07/08, 151 new coronavirus cases were announced.

What are the restrictions in Greece because of Coronavirus?

Greece started lifting the coronavirus measures on 4th May. 

  • On 28th July, Greece has announced new regulations regarding the use of face coverings which had until now only been compulsory in supermarkets and on public transport. A mask or facial cover is mandatory in supermarkets and all food stores (bakeries, butchers), all retail stores, all forms of public transportation, taxis, elevators, hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres, banks, public sector services offices, hair and beauty salons and other enclosed spaces. The fine for not wearing a mask in areas where it is required is 150 euros.
  • Till 15 of July, the following have been opened:  Retail stores, malls, archaeological sites, beaches, schools, restaurants and coffee shops, entertainment and sports venues (cinemas, theatres, entertainment centres, gyms, etc.), museums and interior spaces of restaurants and coffee shops.

Source: US Embassy in Greece

  • Strict containment measures went into effect on the Saronic Gulf island of Poros on Friday 07/08/2022 after 13 people were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. The measures include a curfew shutting down all businesses from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. the following day, a ban on public and private gatherings of any kind involving more than nine people, the suspensions of farmers’ markets, villages festivals and other such public gatherings, as well as a cap of four (or six if they belong to the same household) on the number of people allowed to sit at the same cafe or restaurant table. Masks have also been made mandatory in all public spaces, indoor and out. The restrictions will apply through August 17 at least.

Source: Kathimerini News

On the measures will be monitored daily and if it needed immediate changed will be taken place.

What about the measures that are related to travelling to Greece, like flights, hotels and ferries?

Hotels

The hotels that have a license to be open 12 months a year opened on 1 June. On 15th June all the seasonal hotels opened as well. Note that some of the hotels might don’t open for this season so you can check directly with them.

Flights

  • Restrictions from entering Greece from outside the European Union (including the United States) remain in place.
  • EU passport holders are allowed entry, including permanent residents of Schengen countries, plus Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Romania, Switzerland,  Ireland and the UK.  Non-EU passport holders with EU permanent residence permits may enter Greece.  Contact the Greek Embassy in the country of your residence to verify your residency documents will permit you to enter Greece.
  • On July 16, the European Union Council recommended a list of non-EU countries whose residents may be permitted to enter.  The United States is NOT on this list.  If you RESIDE in one of these countries (a visit is not residence), contact the Greek Embassy in the country of your residence to verify your documents will permit you to enter Greece.  The EU Council will review this list every 15 days.
  • Your residence, not your passport, determines whether you can enter the EU.  If you reside in the EU or one of the 14 countries, you may enter Greece.  The Greek authorities have not detailed the requirements for proving residence.  If you do not have a permanent residence (e.g., nomadic lifestyle, live on a boat, etc.), you must contact the closest Greek Embassy or consulate for clarification.
  • Exceptions to the travel ban include spouses or minor children of EU/Schengen nationals, long-term residents, members of government delegations and passengers in transit.  Consult with your airline regarding any documents they may require to board you.  You must contact the nearest Greek Embassy or consulate if you believe you have a compelling travel reason.
  • Most of the internal flights to islands are operational.  Contact the airlines directly for the schedule and possible travel requirements, such as masks.
  •  Flights from Turkey are banned through July 31.

Ferries

Travel by ferry to and from islands is permitted.  Masks are required.  Passengers must complete a health status questionnaire and submit to a temperature check prior to boarding for trips longer than 30 minutes.  The form is available here in English and Greek, most ferry operator websites, and at the ports.

Land borders

The Bulgarian Promachonas border station is open.  All entrants must have a doctor’s certificate written in English and a negative molecular test for COVID-19 conducted no more than 72 hours prior.  The land borders with Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey are closed with no projected opening date.

Source: US Embassy in Greece

What should I know before travelling to Greece?

Beginning July 1, 2020, the Greek government has determined how the country will welcome travelers, carry out the necessary diagnostic screening and keep everyone safe throughout the season.

The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) is a key element in the planning. As of July 9th 2020, travelers that are allowed to visit Greece must complete their PLF at least 24 hours before entering the country, providing detailed information on their point of departure, the duration of previous stays in other countries, and the address of their stay while in Greece. In case of multiple stays, they are required to provide the address for the first 24 hours at least.
Travelers will receive a confirmation email upon submission of the PLF.
Travelers will receive the PLF with their unique Quick Response (QR)  code on the day of their scheduled arrival in Greece (at midnight) and will be notified via email (the QR code will be provided in a link in the confirmation email).

The PLF can also be found on the Visit Greece app and at travel.gov.gr/#/

It is strongly recommended that all visitors download the Visit Greece app (GDPR compliant) for free, prior their arrival in Greece.

Protocol for air arrivals

· Arrival at the entry gate.

· Transfer to the area where the screening personnel are located. Travellers are requested to show their QR code either on their mobile phone screen or in print. If travel departure begins prior to the day of arrival, travellers are allowed to board after showing the confirmation email (and not necessarily the QR code which is scheduled to arrive during their trip.)

· Depending on their QR code/confirmation, travellers are directed either to the screening area where they will be tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team or to the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· Upon completion of the test, travellers are directed towards the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· The test results are expected to become available within 24 hours. During that time, passengers who are tested are advised to practise social distancing according to local guidelines and self monitoring for symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. In case of such symptoms, medical advice and/or contact with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre should be immediately sought. Only in case they test positive, the authorities will contact them and proceed with the health protocol in place. Otherwise, they may continue with their holidays, adhering to the general public health safety guidelines.

· If travellers plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days.

All travellers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical distancing) according to local guidance.

Protocol for sea arrivals

· Arrival of incoming travellers on foot at the main entry gate.

· Incoming travellers arriving in vehicles are directed to the special entry gate.

· Transfer to the area where the screening personnel are located. Travellers are requested to show their QR code either on their mobile phone screen or in print. If travel departure begins prior to the day of arrival, travellers are allowed to board after showing the confirmation email (and not necessarily the QR code which is scheduled to arrive during their trip.)

· Depending on their QR code/confirmation, travellers are directed either to the screening area where they will be tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team or to the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· Upon completion of the test, travelers are directed towards the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).

· The test results are expected to become available within 24 hours. During that time, passengers who are tested are advised to practise social distancing according to local guidelines and self monitoring for symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. In case of such symptoms, medical advice and/or contact with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre should be immediately sought. Only in case they test positive, the authorities will contact them and proceed with the health protocol in place. Otherwise, they may continue with their holidays, adhering to the general public health safety guidelines.

· If travellers plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days.

All travellers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical distancing) according to local guidance.

Protocol for arrivals at land borders

· Arrival of persons at the checkpoint.

· Passport and customs control are carried out.

· Transfer to the area where screening personnel is located. Travellers are requested to show their QR code either on their mobile phone screen or in print.

· Screening personnel direct travellers, depending on their QR code, either to the screening area where they will be tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team or to the exit. Upon completion of the screening, tested travellers are also directed towards the exit.

· The screening results are expected to become available within 24 hours. During that time, passengers who are tested are advised to practise social distancing according to local guidelines and self monitoring for symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. In case of such symptoms, medical advice and/or contact with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre should be immediately sought. Only in case they test positive, the authorities will contact them and proceed with the health protocol in place. Otherwise, they may continue with their holidays, adhering to the general public health safety guidelines.

· If travellers plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days.

All travellers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical/social distancing) according to local guidance.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greece

Ok, I will fly to Greece but what preparations have been made regarding the healthcare capacity of the most touristy destinations?

It has been announced that authorities are boosting the healthcare capacity of several tourist destinations by providing tests and doctors, as well as an operational plan for the handling of possible infections (a hotel doctor, quarantine areas and transfer to a health facility).

Source: Kathimerini News

Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias presented on 12/06/2020 a detailed action plan which involves an interconnected network of emergency health care and medical services linking Greece’s islands with the mainland as well as specific guidelines for the transport by air or sea of infected individuals.

“We are covering every possible case, providing multiple options for testing as well as to address a possible incident depending on a variety of factors including distance, tourist flows, weather,” said Kikilias.

More specifically, this is the plan about the Coronavirus in Greek islands according to the ministry plan:

-All of the country’s islands now have access to medical services either on location or via transport to the nearest facility.

-All hospitals, healthcare units or centers on the islands will be operating on a 24-hour basis.

-The number of medical and health care staff stationed on the islands has been increased.

-446 beds and 19 Intensive Care Units (ICU) for Covid-19 cases have been secured for the islands with the capacity to increase to 674 and 79, respectively should the need arise.

-Health centers as well as floating medical units are working together with NGOs to carry out extensive sample testing while mobile health facilities will be conducting tests, collecting data for epidemiological research and tracking information.

-Syros and Rhodes will be equipped with PCR testing units with smaller units on smaller islands.

-The National Center for Emergency Assistance (EKAB) has been equipped with isolation capsules for the safe transport by air ensuring a sanitary care environment for highly contagious patients.

-Medical air transportation services will be carried out by helicopters and planes of the Greek Air Force and the Civil Protection secretariat, marine means of the port authorities, and via private means.

According to the Greek health ministry’s plan:

Hospitals open 24/7
Santorini, Mytilini, Rhodes, Samos, Syros, Chios, Ikaria, Kalymnos, Kythira, Kos, Limnos, Naxos, Leros, Halkida, Karystos, Kymi, Zakynthos, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Lixouri, Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Rethymno, Chania, Ierapetra, Neapoli, Sitia

Hospitals with Covid-19 ICU
Mytilini, Rhodes, Samos, Syros, Chios, Zakynthos, Corfu, Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Chania

Health centers
Aegina, Andros, Ios, Karpathos, Milos, Mykonos, Paros, Patmos, Milos, Amorgos, Samothrace, Thassos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Ithaki, Paxi, Tinos, Salamina

Source: GreekReporter

If you have any specific question, please leave me a comment and I will reply as soon as possible.